Hope’s team F.I.T. runners increase this year

Fifteen members finished the annual Sun Run in under an hour

Brenda and Gilbert Deschenes joined 89 other Hope residents for the annual 10 kilometre Sun Run in Vancouver last Sunday. The Deschenes were part of the C.E. Barry team

Step by step, a group of residents of Hope are getting healthier. The proof is in the results of the C.E. Barry Team F.I.T. that took part in the annual 10 kilometre Sun Run in Vancouver last Sunday.

The school’s biggest group ever — 72 — ranged in age from six years to 60-plus. Many were able to run the whole distance. Some took a few walking breaks and others walked the whole way, as they intended.

Each one of them finished.

The team has grown in numbers over the last three years: 38, 49 and 72 — but the number of runners able to crack the one-hour mark has gone up exponentially.

Two years ago, only two were able to beat an hour: Peter Hollmann and James Irwin.

Last year, Hollmann and Irwin were joined by five more — and this year, 15 team members were in under 60 minutes. Stacey Gauthier and team coach Miranda Cowan were close enough to taste it, so they’ll certainly be pushing themselves next year.

The keen 15 included Peter Hollmann (46.54), James Irwin (47.33), Jeff Irwin (51.23), team coach Jacob Cowan (52.01), Dawson Hollmann (52.01.3), Ben Crane (53.01), Dryden Hambly (54.53), Robie Karuzas (55.05) and Kai Hollmann (55.25).

Kai’s mom — and team coach — Kim was ahead of him in the home stretch but he blasted past mom, who cut more than 10 minutes off her last year’s time, to finish in 55.31.

Other sub-hour team members were team coach Pauline Johnson (56.01), Jake Meijer (57.56), Jesse James (58.34) and Chayton Aujla (59.45).

Fleet-footed Hope residents Mike Barker (56:09) and Jada Lemmens (59:52) weren’t part of the C.E. Barry group.

For the school group, family participation is encouraged. In fact, kids can’t take part unless a parent is involved. Some families jump in with both feet. Mom, dad and all the kids get involved. That’s how it goes for the Irwins, Links, Cowans, Gauthiers, Isbisters, Hollmanns, Hamblys, Unraus and Wilkins.

Four of the Aujla family took part, including six-year-old Karina, who finished in 1:24:48.

Kim Hollman’s mom and sister, Carole-Ann and Marlo McKay did the 10 kilometre walk, finishing together in a brisk 1:38:51 — and now there’s a problem in the family.

“Dad’s jealous,” said Kim on Monday. “He figures he could beat my mom’s time, so he wants to go next year.”

The team’s coaches also like to keep things fun, so Kim threw down a “who can beat Mrs. Hollmann?” challenge, to get the most of the C.E. Barry boys.

“Dryden, Ben, Robie, Dawson and Kai beat me, so I have to embarrass myself at the next assembly,” said Hollmann, laughing.

Most of the team booked into the Coast Plaza Hotel for Saturday night, so they could be rested and ready for the Sunday morning start.

“We all met in the lobby and walked to our starting places,” said Hollmann. “It was cool, so we had to jump or dance to the music to keep warm.”

With almost 50,000 participants, people were grouped according to their ability, with elite runners getting started first and walkers starting about an hour later.

“It’s very catchy, the energy in Vancouver,” said Hollmann. “You feel so proud.”

Throngs of supporters lined the route and Jacob Cowan said, “The crowd isn’t there to see the elite runners — they’re there for the regular runners. It’s quite something, all the energy and the whole continuum running at the same time.”

“And all the people offering high-fives as you run past,” added Pauline Johnson, who started the school’s program five years ago.

Each year, it’s a 13-week program that starts in the darkest, wettest part of the year… with the goal of getting people ready for the big run.

“You can see that the training really works,” said Johnson. The three coaches pointed to Jeff Irwin as the poster-boy for what the program can do.

“Jeff started off as a walker in 2010,” said Hollmann, “and he finished in 1:34. Last year, he went in Learn To Run and finished in an hour. This year, in Run Faster, he only took 51 minutes.”

This, for a 56 year-old who never saw himself being able to run.

“I had my reservations,” admitted Irwin on Monday. “I had never seriously run in my life. I didn’t think they could make a 13-week program work for someone like me — but you’re gradually building your body up, getting used to it.

“I think it’s wonderful!” he enthused. “How Kim and Pauline deliver the program is fantastic. They’ve got all these families that are participating and getting healthier.

“It certainly has changed my life — and I think if you asked anyone, they would say it has made a difference in their life.”

The F.I.T. team is aiming to be the biggest elementary team at the run next year, so if you want to help them meet that goal, drop by the school and talk to one of the coaches.